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how to fix the world, part 1(baseball)
by trevor d. kleiner

So, if you want to fix the world, what better way to start than fixing what people in the most powerful country in the world care most about? Wait, don’t answer that, I’m starting here anyway. (And before you make fun of the haphazard humor attempted in the opening, I am a friend of Kraemer, and Yes, he rubs off on you)

Baseball is approaching yet another labor crunch, and while the solution will probably end up being along the lines of “let’s just keep doing what hasn’t worked for anyone but the Yankees”, it’s about time people start thinking about how the hell do we fix this long-term. The simple fact of the matter is the common fan really shouldn’t have to worry about these things. It’s sad that they do. Ask the Expos fan. (For those of you that don’t remember, Montreal was probably far and away the best team in baseball in the strike-ended ’94 season)

Now, the agreements are running out, teams have the threat of elimination hanging over them, and probably worst of all, the ringmasters of this pitiful circus are now running a team they're planning on eliminating at the end of the season. Sounds like a movie. Wait, it was a movie… Anyway….

So, we all know what’s wrong. A labor union whose member’s minimum salary is greater than that of the President of the United States is going to say that the teams have to be free to pay the players what they’re worth. Owners who can afford to pay $700 million to buy a team, but claim said teams are losing money and need salary caps.

So, how do you fix it? That’s easy, and I’ll get into my brilliant system next, but the problem I’ll address is this: No solution that will fix the problems is going to be implemented without losing another season or two to a player strike. It sucks, I know. The fact is, though, that it’s probably better to lose a couple seasons of Yankees/Mets World Series now than to loose 6 franchises and alienate millions of loyal fans in an effort to right a sinking ship in the next 10 years.

So, with that out of the way, here’s my plan. The first thing that needs to be done is a direct overhaul of the profit sharing program. It’s a step in the right direction, but as the Twins owner has proven, the fatal flaw is that there’s no control over how it’s used. For those who don’t know, it’s widely believed that the Twins are run in a zero profit/zero loss mode where the team income is used to pay team expenses, and the owner simply pockets the $20 million in profit sharing from MLB. What I feel the MLB should do is control how it’s used. Up the percentages so that the amount comes out to about, say, $40 million. But, set the rules up so that the money from the profit share can only be paid out in player salaries. That way, greedy owners don’t pocket the extra, and greedy players know there’s more money out there for them in salary.

Speaking of player salaries, what about that salary cap? Personally, seeing what it did for the NFL, I’m all in favor of it. Then again, I’m a Patriots fan, so I could be biased. Anyway, the cap doesn’t need to be as restrictive in baseball as it is in football. Your standard NFL team carries a roster of 53, with a cap of $71.1 million for next year. The Yankees (or any MLB team) have a roster of less than half an NFL team, but could well end up paying twice as much in salary. A baseball salary cap doesn’t need to be as restrictive, but I think it does need to be present.

So, how about this: The salary of a baseball team’s roster of 25 can at no time exceed three times that of the amount of the profit sharing the year before. So, in this example, my scapegoat Yankees can still have a payroll of $120 million, but now the lowly Devil Rays in the same division get about a $40 million boost to their payroll. Ticket sales and TV revenue can go to cover direct operational costs, and if there’s a little left over, they can go out and for god’s sake get some pitching already.

Anyway, that’s a basic version of my plan for saving baseball. The problem is that, while I’m sure it or something like it would work, it will never happen, because it entails, at least in principle, MLB paying salaries for players, who are technically employees of the teams and not baseball. Real legal nightmare sorting that one out…

And besides, it won’t happen because it isn’t everything either side of the debate wants. In my opinion, it’s a great compromise, though, which is why it will never work. It makes too much sense.


Masshole extraordinare...

more about trevor d. kleiner


jael mchenry
3.6.02 @ 12:02p

I love the Kraemer disclaimer.

trevor kleiner
3.6.02 @ 12:05p

I think it's required.

adam kraemer
3.6.02 @ 12:10p

Is that anything like the Kleiner recliner?

michelle von euw
3.7.02 @ 9:40a

The other best team in baseball in '94? Cleveland. Of course a strike had to happen that year.

And even before New England won this year's Super Bowl (go Pats!!!), obviously there's something being done right in football when the last five Super Bowls were won by four different teams.

And you don't get any more small-market than Green Bay.

But you know what? I would have no problems axing six MLB franchises. There isn't enough talent to go around as is, and Florida does not deserve any teams, never mind two.


trevor kleiner
3.7.02 @ 10:49a

I'm not opposed to axing the two teams they are proposing, though i would loose the Marlins insted of the Twins. More that that, I'm not sure. The problem with dropping almost any team is you start ticking off the people who like that team. Try to imagine what it would have been like if Football was contracting in '92, and the Pats went.... Not something I would wish on any sports fan. The talent will eventually even out.


adam kraemer
3.7.02 @ 11:16a

Yeah. All seven Minnesota fans will be devastated. They may have to start rooting for the Cubs.

mike julianelle
3.7.02 @ 11:21a

I don't have a huge probelm with contraction, but the Twins aren't a recent expansion team. They won the World Series in the early 90s and had a nice run at the beginning of last year. They have good fans, as well. Screw the Marlins and the 'Spos, tho.

michelle von euw
3.7.02 @ 11:23a

I don't know if I think that the talent will eventually even out. For one, fewer young kids are playing baseball.

And the fans? The owners stopped caring about us years ago. When a team stops being economically viable, they move to a new city. Personally, if I had a choice between seeing the Pats end in '92 or move to St. Louis, I would have preferred to toast the end of the franchise. Just ask the Cleveland Browns fans how they feel about the Ravens.


michelle von euw
3.7.02 @ 11:28a

And I agree with Mike about Minnesota* -- start with the new guys, like the Marlins and Tampa Bay and Colorado.

Especially Tampa Bay -- that way Wade Boggs won't be inducted into the Hall or Fame as a Devil Ray for his ten minutes as a member of that team.

*Although it would be beautiful irony to see the Twins move back to Washington DC.

adam kraemer
3.7.02 @ 11:30a

I always liked it when teams moved cities, but kept their former geographically relevant names. I can't think of a good baseball example right now (though the Washington Twins would work), but I'm a huge fan of the concept of Utah Jazz.

michelle von euw
3.7.02 @ 11:52a

Adam, San Fransisco Giants. Although that's not as amusing as the Utah Jazz, or the LA Lakers, or the Tennesee Oilers...

Minnesota was smart enough to change their name from Senators to Twins. I'm sure if the team ends up back in DC, they'll just go back to their old name.



sarah ficke
3.7.02 @ 12:00p

Just ask the Cleveland Browns fans how they feel about the Ravens.

I live with a Browns fan. Don't ask them about the Ravens if you value your life.

adam kraemer
3.7.02 @ 12:02p

I have a friend from college who was a Browns fan, I swear, because his favorite all-time player was Bernie.

trevor kleiner
3.7.02 @ 12:05p

This is the type of thing I was talking about. In a perfect world, you wouldn't need to tick off all these fans, and there's dozens of examples like these. Baltimore lost the Colts, Brooklyn lost the Dodgers in probably the most hated move in sports, Hartford lost the Whalers (I do actually know people upset by this). Shutting down and moving teams does this. And in the end, a new team always seems to spring up where one left. Huston picked up the Texans, Baltimore got the Ravens, Cleveland got the Browns back, there's even a AA baseball team in Brooklyn now.


matt morin
3.7.02 @ 12:44p

Get rid of the Devil Rays. If not for the fact that they suck and have no good players, then for the fact that their uniforms are the worst in baseball.

Seriously, do you know a single person who'd be upset if Tampa Bay folded?

michelle von euw
3.7.02 @ 12:55p

Wade Boggs!

But it would end with him.

mike julianelle
3.7.02 @ 1:02p

Their team name is also the worst of all time.

michelle von euw
3.7.02 @ 1:15p

Not exactly true: Washington is still waiting for another baseball team (& have been used by several MLB clubs to goad their own cities into building new stadiums). How many years did it take Baltimore and Houston to get football teams again? And while it's nice to hear that there's a AA team in Brooklyn, it's kind of like Hartford having an AHL team.

Speaking of Hartford, my favorite story about their exodus is that the Whalers offered their former season ticket holders free seats during their first year in North Carolina. Several took them up on it -- and rooted heartily AGAINST the Whalers. It was gorgeous.

trevor kleiner
3.7.02 @ 1:17p

I don't know about that. the worst in baseball, maybe. In other sports there are some bad names. Disney should never be aloud to name a sports francise, for example. "Mighty Ducks"?!?!

How about the CFL having a team called the "Roughriders" and another one called the "Rough Riders". brilliant scheme there.

d b
3.7.02 @ 1:51p

it's those damn canadians again! see? SEE????

shellie, that's an interesting idea about d.c.: its role in numerous ownership dramas as "city i will move your team to if you don't build me a new stadium." makes you wonder if that's another good reason to leave it without a team - owners need a believable place to which they can threaten to move. as for the brooklyn cyclones, they aren't even double-A. they are short-season single-A. the rookie league. better than nothing though.

mike julianelle
3.7.02 @ 2:07p

Trevor, good call on those names, though I don't usually factor Canadiam sports into my thoughts. The Mighty Ducks is disgusting, name-wise, association-wise, everything. Ugh. It's so bad. Named after a horrible children's movie. Now I'm getting mad.

michelle von euw
3.7.02 @ 2:48p

Naming a sports team after a movie is NEVER a good idea. Toronto Raptors, complete with the Jurassic Park symbol. *shudder*

Donna, maybe you are right about DC. It'd be interesting to see what would happen to the Orioles if a team came to Washington, though, just because 40% of Baltimore's ticket sales are in the Northern Virginia area.


matt morin
3.7.02 @ 3:18p

I've got to say though, the Texans got it right. Great logo. Great uniforms. They're going to suck as a team, but at least they're not named after some 6 flags theme park.

mike julianelle
3.7.02 @ 3:30p

I agree, I love the Texans logo and colors. Nice work there. And of course they will suck as a team! I HATE it when an expansion team succeeds right off the bat, like Carolina and Jax did. There are so many teams and fans paying their dues for years, and then those obnoxious upstarts come along and luck into Championship games after 2 or 3 seasons. Grrrr.

d b
3.7.02 @ 3:35p

re the salary cap: i've also heard the suggestion that along with a cap, MLB needs a salary FLOOR. so cheapskates like that profit-sharing-pocketing carl pohlad can't get away with spending the same amount on their entire PAYROLL as the yankees spend on one PLAYER. you'd have to do some fancy math to figure out what a fair salary floor would be, but i think the idea has merit.

re the mighty ducks: not even considering the ridiculous name, whoever is in charge of disney sports should be shot. basically what we have here is a multimedia giant crying poverty as they surround one of the best players in the NHL with a worthless team while trading away their only other star to a division rival. that is not so much how one ought to be running a professional hockey franchise. grrr.

trevor kleiner
3.7.02 @ 4:28p

A salary floor is a great idea, but if the team isn't taking in enough, it hard to FORCE them to pay a certain amount. That was why I suggested the profit sharing money go directly to salary. they still don't have to use it, but they don't get it if they don't, so why wouldn't you spend it.

And for the record, the former Marlins owner pulled, what was in my opinion, the worst management job in baseball. After outspending everyone to win one world series (over the indians, wasn't it michelle?) they sell off all their players, prospects and hopes for the future for a profit, then sell the team. Nice move. For the record, Dolphins fans, this is your owner... Best of luck on a title.....


michelle von euw
3.7.02 @ 4:30p

Mike, I'd be willing to go on the record as saying that '96-'97 was a fluke: neither Carolina or Jax made the Super Bowl, and neither has had too much luck since.

Where that evil new team success does occur, however, is baseball. See the Florida Marlins and the Arizona Diamondbacks. It's like punishment to longtime fans when that kind of injustice occurs.

michelle von euw
3.7.02 @ 4:35p

Donna, technically there is a salary "floor" since each MLB player must make a minimum salary.

While we are talking salaries, someone confirm this for me: A-Rod could bat .200 for the rest of his career and still be guarenteed to be the highest paid player in baseball? May he be cursed with both Carl Everett and John Rocker in his clubhouse.

trevor kleiner
3.7.02 @ 4:40p

The way things are going now, though, his $20 million a year in 8 years when his contract is expiring could be a steal for someone batting .200

michelle von euw
3.7.02 @ 4:46p

Trevor, I thought his contract was worded so that the minute someone was offered a larger deal, A-Rod's salary would automatically adjust so it was $1 higher than that.

trevor kleiner
3.7.02 @ 4:53p

I hadn't heard that. I know the max possible value of the contract is $253 million for 10 years. He's got 9 left. Most is base salary, some is performance incentives, but I hadn't heard anything one way ar another about an automatic raise kicking in if someone else made more. Anyone?

michelle von euw
3.7.02 @ 5:09p

I'm looking for info -- the best I've found so far is this, from ESPN's archives: "There is also a clause in the final two years that guarantees Rodriguez will be the highest-paid player in the game."

trevor kleiner
3.7.02 @ 5:16p

While I wouldn't put it past someone to try and do that, it would seem odd, to say the least. What if someone else signs a contract with a similar clause? What if the Yankees make so much money on their personal sports network that they pay some token player $300 million just to force Texas to pay A-Rod $301 million?

d b
3.8.02 @ 2:20p

that'd be $300,000,001, not $301 million. you gotta wonder - why are guys like a-rod so insecure that they require this highest-paid-player status? i suppose it's a quantifiable way a player can lay claim to being the BEST in the game. but it doesn't convince me.

adam kraemer
3.8.02 @ 2:46p

Maybe he's got a really small johnson.

michelle von euw
3.8.02 @ 2:48p

Remember when Roger Clemens demanded a trade and a renegotiated contract after two years with Toronto because he wasn't the highest paid player anymore? I guess A-Rod's contract safeguards against that kind of whining.

d b
3.8.02 @ 3:03p

well, i think adam might be closer to the truth. heh heh. or at least his AGENT definitely does.

d b
3.8.02 @ 3:05p

that'd be a-rod's agent, adam. i assume you don't have an agent ...

adam kraemer
3.8.02 @ 3:06p

No, but I want one. A secret agent. He can save the world for me on a weekly basis.

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